Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pants, paranoia, pitbull, presser

"Andrea, you're a pitbull, I tell you, a pitbull!" said Dave Denholm.

"Don't go to Toronto any time soon," another reporter told me.

I figured today was perhaps the day I was given a difficult time for no particular reason. Earlier, the pressbox had good-naturedly made fun of me when Jarrod Smith yanked his outer red shorts down near the sideline. Like almost all MLS players do, he was wearing Lycra shorts (bike shorts, basically,) that some players refer to as 'skins' underneath his loose uniform shorts.

"Don't look, Andrea!" Grahame Jones said, ensuring I did glance to the field to see what was happening, because I actually had my nose in a media guide at the time, trying to find a stat. The game was continuing, but there was Smith stopped, unwrapping something from his leg. Since he hadn't suffered a sudden injury, trainers weren't allowed to go on to the field to help him. I figured it was athletic tape of some kind and perhaps it had gotten loose or become uncomfortable and he couldn't stand it any more. I reached for my binoculars to see more clearly if a) I was right and b) how much tape he'd unwrapped in the process.

Mistake. "Whoo! Andrea wants a closer look!" someone called out, as the group cracked up with laughter. "That's what binoculars are for," I muttered.

I don't know if television cameras showed Smith - but he was in full view of all the spectators in the stadium.

After that incident, I didn't take it seriously when Dave said his comment at the press conference, though it puzzled me slightly. However, this time, the press guys weren't really joking.

According to people who were paying more attention, TFC coach John Carver had singled me out as he walked from the press conference dais with Jeff Cunningham. "She's asking the tough questions," he said to Cunningham as they trooped out. "How'd she hear about that?"

Honestly, I missed this exchange completely - I was busy typing on my laptop, once again, head down and concentrating. Other reporters seemed to be in agreement on what they'd heard, though.

As far as what Carver was referring to - well, here's what I asked Cunningham. Jeff didn't seem that surprised by the question, actually, but I guess Carver was.

What I thought was most interesting was what Carver said to Cunningham just as they started to sit down for the presser, which was apparently the tail end of a conversation they were having. Since the press conference hadn't started, I didn't have my recorder on yet, but Carver said something along these lines to his player; "Let's say I was testing you - and you passed the test."

Later on, Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star and I debated whether Cunningham was in any danger of leaving TFC. Morgan's take was that Cunningham was a bit paranoid and if anything, Carver thought Danny Dichio slower and perhaps less effective than Cunningham. I pointed out that "Trader Mo" has shifted a lot of players, that Cunningham didn't have a good year last season, and he's had trouble sticking with squads lately. "Maybe he's paranoid, but maybe they are really looking to trade him," I said.

If so, Cunningham is more or less ready - "I pack light," he said.

Finally, speaking of pitbulls, Landon Donovan has a new brindle pitbull puppy named Santiago. Grahame gives him an intro (middle of column).

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